Power Surge (encaustic)

Image of an encaustic painting by Janet Fox titled "Power Surge (aka Hot Flash)."
Power Surge (aka Hot Flash) | encaustic

Power Birthing, the Latest Hot Flash

With Mothers’ Day nearing, here’s a timely dream and painting to explore. Enjoy!

Dreamscape… I’m visiting the labor and delivery wing of a state-of-the-art hospital. After nine months, a twenty-something female friend is in labor and having a baby! There’s much excitement and anticipation. After a few hours of labor, the baby is born and the doctors and nurses check her/him over. They give the baby to the mother to hold and after, they weigh the baby and make sure she/he is properly developed. After (and I gasp loudly at this part) they proceed to re-insert the baby back into the mother, head first. To my amazement, performing this latest “power birthing” procedure (which will last another month or so) is proven to give the baby a big advantage in its development. While still in shock at this newest of modern medical procedures, I think to myself, “Now I’ve seen a lot of medical advances and new baby things in my lifetime, like in utero surgeries, high-tech strollers, monitoring systems, and advanced gadgets of all kinds, but this new way to “power birth” takes the cake and is absolutely, no-doubt-about-it ludicrous! After going through nine months of pregnancy, hours of labor, and delivery, how on Earth could or would any mother voluntarily do this?” I am bewildered by this situation…

After awakening from this vivid dream, marveling about this surprising story, and laughing about its absurdity, I wondered why this particular sequence of images flowed through my sleep time. So I went into my studio and painted while contemplating this dream.

I decided to tap into my “mother” energy and birth my own “art baby.” Do you see it, there in the middle of this painting? This smaller rectangular section was a mixed media painting I had begun a while ago, but it had not felt quite finished. So I placed it in the middle of a larger blank, wooden board. I then added more artistic elements, taking about another month until I decided it was finished enough to sign. I assembled and mounted the piece in a handmade wooden frame, using my arm-powered saw and drill. While painting, I also explored the idea of what comes after being a mother, thus generating the painting’s name.

Who Has the Power to Decide When A Creation is Finished?

Creating this piece brought up some interesting questions and ideas for reflection.

  • What are the characteristics of the symbolic mother archetype? Here’s what Wikipedia’s says about Jungian archetypes and mother.
  • What symbolic “baby” is ready to be born, although a schooled part of me wants to keep working on it for another month?
  • When is a painting (or any creative endeavor) really finished? I’ve asked other artists this question and almost all replied that they work and rework their art until it feels “finished enough.”
  • Is finishing a painting (or other project) the end of the creative process? Perhaps it is. But I, and other artists I’ve asked, often revisit a previously completed painting and work another layer on top or incorporate it into a new piece. Some art remains in the form of an idea for years while others hibernate in drawers as “works in progress.” Some creations get gifted, donated, recycled, or thrown away.
  • What is power? Wikipedia offers this definition, involving the balance of both constraint and enablement.
  • Who has the power to say when my creative project is finished? The symbolic medical people? The mother? The baby? Some or all of the above?

As an artist and as a contributor to collaborative projects with others, this issue always comes up. How complete, detailed, or perfect does something need to be? How much time and energy do I have to focus on the task? Where is the balance?

For me, I’ve learned to find a point that feels complete enough. Then I sign my name and move on. But sometimes, I go back for a revisit like I did for “Power Surge aka Hot Flash.”

Here are some words of wisdom from others:

  • “Art is a birth, and you can’t go to a teacher and find out how to be born… you have to struggle… until that image, the one that comes out of your need to create, emerges.” – Malcah Zeldis, 1978 (at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, District of Columbia)
  • “The job isn’t finished until the floor is swept, the tools cleaned and put away in their place, and the shop lights turned off.” – Leonard Fox (my father)

How do  you know when your creation is finished?

 Feel free to add your note about this post or view others’ thoughts by clicking “Leave a Comment / Comments,” below.

  For information about purchasing this artwork, contact Janet Fox.

2 Responses

  1. Dear Janet,
    Congratulations on the J Fox Dream Art Studio Website. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your dream and thought what great conversation (and fun) our dream group would have with that dream as we all explored our own associations to such an image. For me it made me wonder what creative process in me is ready to be birthed but I keep putting off, or over-thinking, or worrying that I’m not ready or the thinking the time isn’t right. Or maybe I’m afraid to do the tending and care that such a new project might require. Anyway, thank you for the opportunity to reflect on your dream.

    Regarding how I know when a piece is finished. For me, it is a feeling, a “knowing” that comes from someplace in the body that says “it is finished.” My mind might says “but that could be better” or “that could use more detail.” Whenever I find myself caught in such dialog after I get the “knowing” experience, some voice will inevitably say “no, the way it is reflects you as you are now. It mirrors your inner world as it is at this moment. Honor it! Accepting and honoring the piece as it is at that moment allows me to accept and honor myself as I am at that moment. In the acceptance, resistance dissolves and healing occurs. For in that moment I don’t have to be any thing more than I am.

    1. Dear Sheldon,

      Thanks for your encouraging feedback about my website and insights about this dream and my painting. It was such a vivid and surprising dreamscape that I thought others might also enjoy it. I’m glad it provided food for thought. Your wise words about honoring myself–in the moment right now as I am–feels right on, too. Best wishes for wonder-ful dreams.

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